Agnes Scott College, the women’s institution in Decatur, is once again proving its commitment to building globally oriented leaders by hiring a former Obama administration trade official as its new president.
After an eight-month search, the college’s Board of Trustees named Leocadia “Lee” I. Zak to replace outgoing president Elizabeth Kiss starting in July.
Appointed by Barack Obama in March 2010, Ms. Zak worked with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, an arm of the Commerce Department that among other tasks works to encourage countries developing new infrastructure to use American products and services. The TDA has brought many delegations of airport officials from countries like Turkey to the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta.
Ms. Zak led aviation cooperation missions to China, India and Brazil during her time at the agency and spearheaded cooperation programs on energy with China and Brazil. She also helped develop a global initiative on procurement, rules by which governments issue tenders for major projects — always a hot-button issue in global trade. She joined President Obama on overseas missions, often meeting with heads of state and business and government leaders, according to an Agnes Scott news release.
A lawyer by training, she spent 18 years in international and domestic finance practice before joining the USTDA.
She plans to build on the success of Agnes Scott’s recent efforts to create globally engaged graduates through SUMMIT, a reorientation of the college’s curriculum to focus on global literacy and leadership development, using the liberal arts as the foundation.
In a welcome message posted on the college’s website, Ms. Zak said she was excited not just about the college, but also about Atlanta, citing the city’s many cultural and entertainment assets including sports teams. But her enthusiasm has its limits, she joked:
“I just want to let people know that we’re not giving up the Red Sox,” she said.
Ms. Zak hopes to build on the ethos she inherited from her experience at a women’s college early on.
““When I was in college, I thought that I was going to change the world,” she said. “I’m confident that the students at Agnes Scott College are going to do exactly that.”
Watch the video here:
Learn more about how Agnes Scott “reinvented itself for the 21st century” in this Global Atlanta story:
Find more information on Ms. Zak and the search process here.